Showing posts with label Hillsborough County. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hillsborough County. Show all posts

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hindu Temple of Tampa

In the future, will the Hindu Temple of Tampa be a historic landmark?

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) guidelines ask for buildings to be 50 years old before being considered significant. National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation states "Fity years is a general estimate of the time needed to develop historical perspective and to evaluate significance." OK, I can go along with waiting 50 years before nominating the Hindu Temple of Tampa to the National Register, but I think that as long as it's still standing then, it will make the list.

I say that even though religious properties have to meet additional considerations, considerations designed to avoid the appearance of an endorsement of religion by the federal government. To be considered eligible for the NRHP, a religious property may have outstanding architectural merit, or have cultural significance. The Hindu Temple of Tampa represents the growth of the Hindu community in Florida, following the track that other immigrant groups have experienced in the United States. As permanent populations of Hindu Indians grow in the Florida, and the U.S., the temple is a means by which children may be taught Hindu cultural and religious beliefs and traditions (A Place at the Multicultural Table: The Development of an American Hinduism, by Prema A. Kurien, Rutgers University Press, 2007).

Architecturally, it is unique in Tampa. The earth-toned gopuram (the monumental tower at the temple's entrance) breaks above the tree line; the temple walls are covered with carvings and statuary. A team of ten men from India spent years working on these decorations.

The story of the temple's construction is told in an article from the October 24, 2003, St. Petersburg Times, "The Deities of Lynn Road." Difficulties included finding an appropriate site, and getting zoning permission for a building height of 70 feet.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Hong Kong Willie

On the corner of Fletcher Avenue and Morris Bridge Road in Tampa is possibly the largest collection of styrofoam buoys I've ever seen unattacted to a fishing fleet. This is Hong Kong Willie. Surrounded by an interstate highway, a corporate business park, and national chain hotels, the orange helicopter on a flat-bed truck festooned with a web of fairy lights does catch the eye. The Hong Kong Willie blog has links to interviews and news stories outling the Hong Kong Willie philosophy of reuse, and tracing the evolution from bait shop to art studio.

Hong Kong Willie Preservation Art Group (audio / slide show from WUSF)


Added May 2, 2009

My husband took an unblurry photo of the helicopter, so I've added it here:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Florida Fresh Market

Primed by promises of fresh, local produce, I visited a local fresh market this week for the first time in a long while. I surmised that since a lot of vegetables are grown in Florida, that a fresh market in Florida would have little room for foreign fruit. So I was disappointed to see Chilean grapes and California avocados.

I acknowledge my hypocrisy in expecting local produce in Florida, a state whose vast agricultural economy is based on selling to people who live elsewhere. For centuries, Florida farmers have made their livings by selling oranges and green beans and strawberries to people far, far away. Pioneering farmers loaded citrus onto steamboats and trains so that hotels in New York City might serve sectioned fruit to their guests. Thousands of men were lured to Florida by the promise of a better life as a gentleman farmer, with ten acres in the country and a house in town.

Indeed, there were several local products available at the Oldsmar Fresh Market that I do not see at my local Publix or Wal-Mart Supercenter. There were fresh breads from a local bakery, fresh Gulf seafood, and honey from local bees. Of course there were Florida strawberries, and Ruskin tomatoes. There was a table of Florida citrus, and not the shiny perfect fruit that gets mailed away in gift baskets, but the duller, lumpier fruit Floridians keep for themselves because it tastes so good. Here were the Florida grapefruit, the Temple orange, and the Honey Murcott. The Temple and the Honey Murcott oranges are both tangors, crosses between tangerines and sweet oranges. The Temple orange gave its name to the city of Temple Terrace, where larges groves of the fruit once grew. The Honey Murcott orange is named after Charles Murcott Smith who first planted groves of this variety nearby in Pinellas County.

"Home cooking: Surviving for a week on locally grown food" (St. Petersburg Times, October 24, 2008)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Citrus Park School - 1911

In September I posted a photograph of the Citrus Park Colored School, which raised a question about another one-room school in Citrus Park. Finally, I stopped and took a picture of that one as well.

The Citrus Park school was built in 1911, and served all grades in a single room until the 1920s, when a divider was added to make it into two rooms. In the 1920s, a new brick school was built; this brick building is still part of today's Citrus Park Elementary. The wooden schoolhouse, which was originally white rather than red, continued to serve the school and community as lunchroom, church, and classroom. As Citrus Park grew, particularly after World War II, more classrooms were added to the school, but the old schoolhouse remained.

The Old Citrus Park School is a Hillsborough County Historic Landmark, as it may be the oldest standing school building in the county.

The Citrus Park Elementary School campus is rather a hodge-podge of architectural styles, the latest addition being in the current decade. Northwest Hillsborough County has grown rapidly in the past ten years, and finding classrooms for all the kids has greatly challenged the local school board.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


In 1955 Florida Power Corporation bought the northern part of Weedon Island and built a power plant there. The power plant property includes some of the prehistoric mounds, the former Weedon house site, and a 1930s movie studio. The power company used the movie studio as a warehouse until it burned in 1963. The power plant is now Progress Energy's Bartow Power Plant.

Here's a glimpse of the power plant through the mangroves along Gandy Boulevard:

If you were to take a few steps further towards the water and look to the east across Old Tampa Bay, you'd see the Interbay Peninsula, home to South Tampa, Port Tampa, and MacDill Air Force Base.

Squint a bit, and you'll see a very large airplane landing at MacDill AFB.

Today MacDill Air Force Base is home to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, U.S. Central Command, and the headquarters of the U.S. Special Operations Command, along with 51 other Mission Partners. Nearly seventy years ago it was a brand new base, training pilots for World War II. Base commander on December 7, 1941, was General Clarence Tinker, also known as the first Native American to become a Major General in the United States Army. Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma was named in his honor.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Citrus Park Colored School

Tucked away just off Gunn Highway in northwest Hillsborough County, an area now more known for estate homes, is an old, one-room school house. The Citrus Park Colored School was built in the 1920s by and for the African-American community in the Keystone-Odessa-Citrus Park area on land donated by Mrs. Barbara Allen. Rev. Charlie Walker spent many hours at the county school board's offices urging them to open this school, until they agreed to supply the materials. The families served by the school provided the labor and construction know-how to actually build the school. Citrus Park Colored School served up to thirty students at a time until it closed in 1948. Since then, the old school building has been used by the Mount Pleasant AME Church. The Citrus Park Colored School is a designated Hillsborough County Historic Landmark.

"A Shared and Pleasant History" from the Tampa Tribune

For further reading:

"'The Most Well Utilized the United States:' Citrus Park Colored School," by Geoffrey Mohlman. Sunland Tribune (1999) Volume 25, Number 1, pages 77 - 96.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Now, That's a ...

A clue -- these usually aren't painted lavender.

It's the shovel bucket from a dragline, used in Florida to mine phosphate. It's hard to tell from this picture, but this shovel is really big. You could walk around in there. Draglines and shovels like this were a tremendous step forward in efficiency compared to the handheld shovels and wheelbarrows used when phosphate rock was discovered in Florida in the 1880s. At first, miners dug for river-pebble phosphate, but draglines let them pull off the oveburden and get to buried phosphate rock deposits more easily.

Florida phosphate is a major source of fertilizer for the nation and the world, and has been economically important to the state for over 100 years. Downsides to mining are primarily environmental, from the actual soil removal to energy and water use, to the slightly radioactive by-products stored in mountainous gypsum stacks. Most of Florida's phosphate comes from the Central Florida Phosphate District or Bone Valley, where the corners of Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, and Hardee counties meet.

This particular shovel can be found to the side of MOSI in Tampa. Yes, that's a red dinosaur in the background.

More Reading about Phosphate in Florida: